Forging Community fires up for fundraiser

Janice Crede grabs a pair of tongs and moves her red-hot salvaged steel to her anvil named Parker.

She gives it a few sturdy whacks, asks for advice, and moves it back into the one-of-a-kind forge, still glowing orange.

Eventually, she hopes the piece will resemble a fish, with hooks for hanging.

“I’ve never made one like this before,” Crede said, a hobby blacksmith and professor of sociology at the College of St. Scholastica.

Forging Community is a local non-profit with the goal of keeping the blacksmithing traditions and knowledge alive in the community for all ages.

It offers classes year-round and encourages the public to participate. If nothing else, at least check out the gift shop.

“We see people looking in the windows all of the time when they are walking past in the summer and hope they come in,” said Warren Betterncourt, one of the blacksmithing instructors. “Then again, who wants to be near a forge on a hot day?”

The organization is run out of an old Perkins restaurant building that was nearly condemned by the flood that hit Duluth in 2012.

Because of the immense damage to the building, a lot of time and money went into fixing up the place.

“We filled about five dumpsters with garbage, and there were things in the basement of various colors, textures and smells,” said Paul Webster, a board member and instructor for the organization.

The members of Forging Community have been fixing their building since the flood in 2012. The money raised from Fall Fundraiser will be used in maintaining building and supporting blacksmithing classes


To maintain the building and make blacksmithing classes cheaper, the organization is having a family fun fundraiser on Oct. 28, from 4-8 p.m. at the Armory Arts and Music Center (AAMC) in Duluth.

“It will be good, clean fun from a bunch of dirty people,” Webster said. “Halloween is about the most ‘blacksmithy’ holiday.”

The event will have Halloween-themed carnival games that are playable for about $1 each, along with a costume contest with a prize of steel from the gift shop.

“We like to earn our way,” Webster said. “That’s part of the ethic of a blacksmith.”

The forge used to create their art is unique and what Webster calls, “An engineering feat.” It is a four-way forge, which allows four artists to work simultaneously and side by side, unlike a conventional forge that accommodates one person at a time.

“We are an organization that is open to everyone -- really, everyone,” Webster said.

The forge was specifically built to accommodate artists who use wheelchairs.

The people at the core of the organization are blacksmiths, but a few guest artists -- including a mosaicist and ceramicist -- have “maker’s spaces” in the building.

The event is $15 at the door.

Check out their website for information on classes.

Event raises money to fight breast cancer close to home

Who's the big Eyedea?